B A L I S O J O U R N
D A Y 3
P U R A L U H U R
B A T U K A R U ·
J A T I L U W I H
P A D D Y F I E L D S ·
D E C E M B E R 1 3 2 0 1 2
P A R T 1
Pura Luhur Batukaru · Jatiluwih Paddyfields · Part 1
Day 3 was a sacred day of culture, mountains, temples, and more paddy fields. I went on a scenic drive 'off-the-beaten-track' with time to stop and appreciate the tranquil beauty of Bali, and learned a tremendous deal about Balinese farming traditions, going back to nature with a short walk into the forest, remote villages and farmland. Once past busy Denpasar, I explored the unspoiled countryside and villages along the backroads.
Travelling through thick tropical forest beneath Mount Batukaru I reached the remote Pura Luhur Batukaru (Luhur Batukaru Temple). For Balinese Hindus, this site supposedly has special mystical powers; the Besakih Temple is said to be one of the most sacred on the island, and an ideal spot to meditate.
In the fertile volcanic foothills of Batukaru Mountains I was greeted by an abundance of tropical fruits, spices, vegetables and flowers. It is no wonder that the community here is considered Bali's farming elite. For the Balinese, cultivation of land is a creative art and a communal effort, and the people of Jatiluwih have created a true masterpiece - an endless and intricate jigsaw of finely curved rice terraces in brilliant shades of green, with glistening waters, so soothing to the eye.
Photos taken using Sony NEX-F3. No edits except cropping. Click on the images below to expand. Disclaimer: The photos herein and all other albums associated with Bali Sojourn are by no means a documentary. They're all touristy snapshots.
Another day, another tour. A typical morning through the winding roads past Denpasar on the way to the Batukaru mountains where yet again, the roads are for one car at a time on a first-come-first-served basis. Yes we're tilted because on the left was an almost 10 meter ravine. © Evan Hwong Photographs
Nope, not gonna sit in the car getting vertigo looking on the left side down. Took a short walk instead ahead of my driver and guide. © Evan Hwong Photographs
....even the highway patrol couldn't do much. © Evan Hwong Photographs
We journeyed on and along the way on a fine morning you'll see houses after houses with various little shrines and temples. © Evan Hwong Photographs
Each house would have a shrine or temple. For large families, they'll have a family temple. Each temple is used to pray for spirit(s) living amongst them or to their ancestors. Balinese believe everywhere you walk on has a spirit, even stones. Height of temples indicate caste. Commoners (Sudras) have one to three roofs, high-caste aristocrats five to nine, consecrated kings, eleven. Kings have divine ancestry and entitled to eleven. © Evan Hwong Photographs
Arriving at the foot of Mount Batukaru, we were greeted by the Pura Luhur Batukaru Temple. For Balinese Hindus, this site has special mystical powers and the Besakih Temple within is very sacred - an ideal spot to meditate. Here's something you may see in most of the community temples around Bali: Two timber logs placed like a number 11. During special ceremonies, the high priest will bang it together to announce to the surrounding community to come. © Evan Hwong Photographs
The entrance to the temple. You'll also notice in most places in Bali the two large arches on both sides of any entrance. It represents two hands closing in to welcome you. It also represents anything and everything of opposites, from good vs evil to man vs woman to earth vs sky etc. There's two shrines in front (the right one cropped out) of many arches to signify it's for other wandering spirits to keep out if they have any evil intent. © Evan Hwong Photographs
Within the communal temple grounds you'll see offerings of all shapes and sizes. Here's one with egg. To the Balinese, all the blessings they receive on a daily basis they'll offer a little bit of it to the gods. Like Christians tithing 10% of their earnings on Sundays, except the Balinese do it up to 3 times a day everyday. © Evan Hwong Photographs
Offerings can also be used as a way to appease their gods with nice smelling flowers and candies. But ultimately, what's important is the 'intent' in one's heart on what they are offering. © Evan Hwong Photographs
Entering into the main temple ground is another sacred experience, and you'll also need to be in sarongs to step within this other arch where the ceremonial proceedings of various kinds were to officially take place. © Evan Hwong Photographs
We were early, some priests were sitting around waiting for families to come for their prayers. © Evan Hwong Photographs
Pura Luhur Batukaru Temple is one of the six directional temples that are believed to protect the island and its people from evil spirits, built in the 11th century. The pagoda-like temples, or 'Meru,' have uneven number of tiers (1 to 11) which get smaller the higher they get using black sugar palm fibre. The higher the meru, so is the status of the god within and to whom it's dedicated: eleven roofs for Siwa and nine for Brahma and Wisnu. © Evan Hwong Photographs
Pura Luhur Batukaru is one of Bali’s biggest Hindu temples, but because it is off the main tourist trail, sees fewer visitors than many of the other temples. Here along the shrines are statues of various gods that protect each shrine normally used to put offerings. © Evan Hwong Photographs
What I didn't realize was on this day, it was the marking of a new moon, and the locals will be coming one family after another to pray to their gods for this. Also called 'Tilem', it's where the families will be coming to give their thanks for the blessings received, and to give other offerings to have a better harvest for their farms to even a more fertile wife for a bigger family. © Evan Hwong Photographs
Dressed in their most traditional garbs, locals would bring a little bit of everything from their home to present to their gods. Balinese use large amounts of their income for the frequent and expensive decorations, offerings, special clothing and feasts required for such ceremonies. The rituals and preparations also consume an astounding amount of their time. Employees skipping out on work, taking hours- or days- off, making businesses run less smoothly than others. © Evan Hwong Photographs
While more families come, I didn't wanna look like I'm crowding them so I walked around the temple grounds and found another smaller site. © Evan Hwong Photographs
The Pura Luhur Batukaru Temple has survived numerous earthquakes and volcanoes through intensive restoration works. © Evan Hwong Photographs
Further up were more temple grounds. Didn't dare to venture up coz I could've sworn I saw a snake. The guide coyly said it it's a real snake it's good omen. If it's a spirit, I'm screwed. Yeah, sure. Thanks. © Evan Hwong Photographs
Every temple ground has two common communal areas with the worship area split in front in between both sides. Left side for men, right side for women, center front for the priest. © Evan Hwong Photographs
Every temple/shrine also has a priest who doubles as the caretaker. Balinese believe in karma so if you do good to others, you'll go to heaven when you pass on. If you don't, you'll suffer and perhaps reincarnate back either as a human again or as animals and the cycle would go on and on until you do good again. Those who attain priesthood will have a higher chance of entering heaven. Click below to be redirected to Part 2. © Evan Hwong Photographs